India needs more bone marrow donors: Harsh Vardhan
Posted on Aug 07 2014 | IANS
New Delhi, Aug 6 : Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Wednesday called upon citizens to voluntarily register themselves as bone marrow donors to help enhance the chances of patients with blood cancer and other blood-related diseases get genetically compatible donors.
"Unlike blood donation, in the case of unrelated donor, the chances are one in a million that a donor's Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) will match with the needy patient's. Therefore, there is a requirement of having millions of registered donors," Vardhan said while speaking at the launch of a "Public Initiative of Bone Marrow Donation" at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) here.
A willing donor can register himself at the Asian Indian Donor Marrow Registry (AIDMR) at AIIMS. He will have to undergo an initial test done for which 10 ml of blood is taken. The test is called HLA typing.
In case they turn out to be HLA match for the needy patient, they will be requested to donate their bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells to patients of blood-cancer and other disorders, he said.
Vardhan said the health ministry will soon start a facility for the bone marrow donation in Safdurjung Hospital, which will intensify the initiative for bone marrow donation in the country.
"There is a need for the NGOs and several other health organisations to spread awareness in the society to curb all kinds of myths and superstitions that deter the individuals from being donors, which is a noble cause," he said.
On the occasion, Vardhan registered himself as a bone marrow donor and gave his blood sample for the HLA testing.
"One should at least understand that for the patients suffering from blood-related diseases like blood cancer, leukaemia, thalassemia, anaemia and many other diseases, a simple commitment to donate bone marrow can save a patient's life at the cost of nothing," Vardhan told IANS.
The AIDMR at AIIMS has set a target of registering 100,000 bone marrow donors in the first year and expand the register up to half a million donors in the next five years.
Vardhan also called for donation of body organs and cadavers, which can save life of the needy patients, and also serve the purposes of medical research.
"In India every year over 200,000 people need a kidney and 100,000 need a liver, but only 2 to 3 percent of the demand for organs is met. People need to be convinced and made to understand that donating organs after their death can save somebody's life," he said.
"I want the health workers and NGOs also to convince the family members of the brain-dead patients to donate the latter's heart that can be used to save somebody else's life," he added.
M.C. Mishra, Director AIIMS, said: "It is always appreciable to donate the organs and blood for the survival of the needy patients."